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UN says MH17 crash 'may amount to a war crime'

The UN's human rights chief has said that the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine could constitute a "war crime." This came as new figures showed the Ukraine conflict has killed at least 1,100 since April.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Monday that the alleged shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 11 days ago

could be a war crime

, and called for a thorough and unimpeded investigation.

"This violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime. It is imperative that a prompt thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation be conducted into this event," she said.

The commercial airliner fell from the sky over eastern Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, on July 17. It crashed into area controlled by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board.

Black boxes show shrapnel evidence: Ukraine

Ukraine said on Monday the data recorders from flight MH17 showed the plane came down after a massive loss of pressure after being hit by shrapnel from an explosion. This is the first information made public from the flight's black boxes.

Ukrainian national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said MH17 suffered "massive explosion decompression" after it was hit by fragments coming from a missile, causing it to crash.

Andriy Lysenko told a news conference in Kyiv that the information came from experts in Britain downloading information from the passenger jet's inflight recorders. The information is being handed over to international investigators for analysis.

The Dutch Safety Board (OVV), which is leading the investigation, would not confirm the information from Ukraine on the flight recorders, according to news agency AFP.

Crash site delays

US and Ukrainian officials have said the plane was almost certainly shot down by the separtists using a surface-to-air missile system supplied to them by Moscow. Russia has denied giving the separatists any weapons that could have shot down the plane.

However, due to delays in getting an investigation started into the cause of the crash, there is still no proof.

Ongoing fighting around the crash site between separatists and the Ukrainian army has

stopped international teams from traveling there

. Heavy shelling around the area on Sunday and Monday forced Dutch and Australian police to cancel a planned examination of the scene.

More than 1,000 killed since April in fighting

Pillay's comments coincided with a new

UN report

which showed at least 1,129 people had been killed and 3,442 wounded in eastern Ukraine since mid-April.

The report said armed groups were presiding over a total breakdown of law and order in the region, and continued to abduct, detain, torture and execute people held as hostages.

The armed groups are organized and well armed, according to the report, and have intensified their challenge to the government in Kyiv.

More than 100,000 people have fled the areas of fighting to other parts of the country.

While the government has regained control of large parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it has come at the cost of many lives and serious infrastructure damage, the report said.

US releases 'proof' of Russian rocket claims

On Sunday, the US released photos which it says back up

claims Russia had been firing rockets into Ukraine in recent days


The photos appear to show marks where the rockets were launched, where they landed, and heavy fighting after the downing of MH17.

jr/pfd (AFP, AP)

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